It seems the Puppy is relocating the playground at school to our house, rock by rock. Either that or he’s planning to tunnel out of recess one day—a preschooler’s Shawshank Redemption. Either way, his jacket pockets groan with the weight of fistfuls of rocks every day, and Facebook has chewed me out for asking how best to disappear the burgeoning rock collection. I’ve decided to live with it in hopes his interest in rock-relocation will end as does jacket weather. I figure, those without pockets will gather no rock…ets. You know what I mean.
I’m either exceedingly clever or tragically naïve.
You know what else I wish? That the children’s books I find hysterical amused Puppy in the same way. I found a new (to me) series by Mo Willems (of Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus fame—also hysterical) called Elephant and Piggie, and they just crack me up. I read a couple of the stories to Puppy in the book store in hopes of enticing him to ask for them, but he balked. I tried explaining why they’re so funny, but of course that works every time, right? So… I bought them anyway. Because surely I only need to find the right emphasis in my narration—the right cadence or something—to convey the humor. He’ll love them—I’m sure of it! If he’ll just let me read them to him; he’s rather emphatic in his rejection of the stories every night. Dammit.
And the thing is, the books have won some distinguished children’s book awards, but that is zero indication of their interest to kids. This isn’t just true for the Mo Willems’ books; I haven’t yet found a Newbery, Caldecott, or Geisel Award recipient that the Puppy really enjoyed, (as measured by his repeated demands requests that I read it to him). Instead he asks for stories with nonsensical plotting and grating illustrations— like Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, or Hedgie Blasts Off. They need a new award for books that entertain kids as well as the adults who read to them. It’s not an impossible achievement; Looney Tunes figured it out years ago. Maybe put kids on the award panels? Just a thought.
Meanwhile, I guess I’ll just giggle over Elephant and Piggie to myself. Nothin’ odd about that.
In Kitten news, she’s sick. She’s all stuffed up so she can’t breathe with her nuk in her mouth, but she can’t sleep without her nuk in her mouth, so she doesn’t sleep. And she’s really pissed off about it. Also, I think she may have brought in contractors to install under-the-carpet sensors right outside her bedroom door—something akin to those traffic-light sensors that you’re sure are too narrow for your car because you’re parked right on top of it but still the light stays red? Well, Kitten’s instruments are MIT-caliber:
After hovering over her crib in the wee small hours, shushing and singing faint lullabies,
After gently, rhythmically stroking her head as she passes through the first stages of sleep,
After waiting at least twelve minutes since the last leg twitch, when her breathing is slow and deep,
After backing out of her room with the pace and weight of dandelion puff— timing each footfall with the surge of waves from her sound machine,
The moment—the very infinitesimal second after clearing her threshold—she pops up, sees I’m gone, and commences shrieking.
I may have made a life-altering discovery last night, though. On Round Three of the above scenario, when my bladder was about to burst, I leaned over to whisper in Kitten’s ear—telling her that I needed to pee, but that I’d be right back. Then I walked out, without making any attempt to hide my footfalls. She sat up and watched me leave, but didn’t holler. Could she have understood me? I wondered, as I peed. When I finished my business, I contemplated just returning to bed—this was about four o’clock in the morning—since she wasn’t crying. The monitor showed she was still sitting up, though, as if waiting for me to deliver on my promise.* I felt it was a test—for both of us. So I returned to her room, eased her onto her side and started the shushing/stroking cycle again. This time, however, after about ten minutes, I leaned over and softly told that I was very tired, I was going back to bed, and I would see her when it was time to get up. I again left without taking pains to disguise my departure, and she again sat up to watch me leave, and didn’t cry. We both slept soundly for another two hours.
OH HOLY DAY!
I’ll need to verify this before declaring a parenting revolution,** but it might just mean an end to all those late-night, awkward-leaning, hip-numbing, neck-cricking, parched-singing, mood-sinking, husband-cursing, litany-listing episodes all-too-common among parents of infants. Just pet the baby, explain the situation—all whispery and shushing-like—then stroll out; easy, moo-queasy. I’ll try it tonight and get back to you.***
*The I’ll-be-right-back excuse works wonders on Puppy; it’s cut his nighttime routine by a good 15 minutes. When I’ve finished reading him books and singing him songs and talking about his day—when I’ve fielded the absolute last “Why?” I can bear—I’ll stand to leave, telling him it’s time for me to go to bed. Invariably he’ll fuss, which I’ll pooh-pooh, and then I’ll sigh as though giving in to his demands and say, “Alright—after I’ve washed my face and brushed my teeth I’ll come back in for one more hug and kiss, ok?” He’ll agree and I’ll tuck him in, close his door, and go downstairs for a bottle glass of wine. Voila! Sure, yeah—a couple of times he’s called me on it, but I just tell him I did come back in, but he was sound asleep. And then I’ll distract him from further questions by demonstrating how he looked when I found him—with his legs splayed and his mouth hanging open. It cracks him up; I’m pretty sure this is a positive form of parenting. Which reminds me, I’ve been meaning to ask: When do our brains start etching memories for the long term? Thanks.
**Can you say Book Deal!?